27 October 2015

CLECAT welcomes steps to simplify Port Services proposal but calls for scope to be broadened

On 12 October the European Parliament Transport Committee discussed proposed amendments to the report by MEP Knut Fleckenstein on the Commission proposal for a Regulation on Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports. The discussion demonstrated a general consensus around Mr Fleckenstein’s approach of moving the proposal away from opening of market access for port services to setting a framework for organisation of port services.

Mr Fleckenstein added that clear criteria for financial transparency should be at the heart of the regulation, and that port charges should not be set centrally by national authorities. He has tabled an amendment where any limitation of providers would follow an open, non-discriminatory and transparent procedure, which was welcomed by a number of political groups.

The draft report by Mr Fleckenstein and the initial signs of compromise amendments which he is discussing with other MEPs suggest that the Parliament will simplify the Commission’s proposal, allowing ports to organise provision of port services based on their own local situation and market needs.

CLECAT continues to regret that the scope of the Regulation has been reduced drastically, having long argued for a legislative procedure that will improve the efficiency in EU ports through opening up access to services, including cargo handling among others. Restrictive practices in the organisation of port services continue to hamper access to services in several EU ports.

Nicolette van der Jagt, Director General of CLECAT said: “Whatever the outcome of the current legislative process, we commend the European Commission’s intentions and acknowledge its efforts to make progress to increase the efficiency in ports. The EU institutions should still work to encourage fair competition and foster efficiency. The principles of free market access and transparency are not uniformly applied in all EU ports, and should be guaranteed. We will be following the discussions over the coming weeks and will draw the attention of policy makers to any additional restrictions which may be introduced, particularly under the guise of social protection. It is important that pragmatism, transparency and openness remain central to the development of this legislation.”

The Transport Committee is scheduled to vote on the draft report and amendments on 10 November. CLECAT encourages MEPs to continue this work in developing workable, meaningful compromises, so that the regulation is a step in the right direction.